Mindfulness: A Receiving Mind
Mindfulness is a common concept in the practice of yoga and meditation, which are becoming more and more commonplace in contemporary Western life.
But what does the term mindful meditation really mean? Better yet, what does it mean to us in our day-to-day lives?
Think of mindfulness as being full of mind, but without the chattering of extemporaneous thoughts. Our minds are constantly at work – judging, planning, and narrating everything we are exposed to – from the moment we wake until the very instant we fall asleep. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider the liberation of an uncluttered mind!
So, what does it mean to have mind awareness, to have awareness of mind, yet not be thinking? To have mind awareness – awareness of mind – is to free ourselves of the never-ending flow of unconscious chatter.
But how do we get there? As in all things, it takes practice.
Your brain is a transmitter. So, if you begin to understand your thinking mind — the judging, planning, narrating voice in your head — as sending information to you, what would it be like for your mind to be receiving information instead?
One of my early spiritual teachers used to say, ‘concentrate to send, relax to receive.’ If you can truly relax, you will usually fall asleep. But if you are mindful within your relaxation, you can give attention — without comment — to your perceptions.
Perceptions are only possible because you are receiving the information. So what would it mean to have a receiving mind? It would mean a mind full of understanding. But, not just any understanding — perception without judgment or criticism. Perception that is accepted, noted, and cared for. Perception that is nurtured and given a good home. Such perception does not need to be corrected or controlled. It simply is.
Therefore, to be truly mindful, or to achieve real mind awareness, is to understand and perceive your thoughts without commentary.
Human beings are naturally judgmental. And our mind’s constant commentary is almost always an extreme evaluation, often unconsciously judging another person superior or inferior upon meeting them, for example. With such extreme assessments, our thinking mind holds a position of polarity. We pit the best against the worst, and we do it even with ourselves; especially with ourselves. We pit what we’ve done, which is not good enough, against what we should have done, which is better.
But if we are mindful of our inner critic, we take note of the judge’s activity without buying the goods, so to speak. We become non-judgmental, accepting of our own thoughts and perceptions.
The thinker is thinking. The judge is judging. The planner is planning. Mindfulness is simply noticing. For every instance we notice, we are not judging. We take note of the judge; we watch the thinker at work; but we are no longer thinking. We have become a witness to the thinking.
As a witness, we are one step removed from the doing. And with this tiny disengagement, we have created vast opportunities for ourselves and our enlightenment. Opportunity for a deeper breath, a longer pause; the chance to look around, taste the air, feel our bodies, laugh at ourselves. We really can stop and smell the roses.
We find the opportunity to question what we’re thinking, what we’re judging, who we are being, within our own minds.
From this place of noticing our thinking, we can experience gentleness. Mindfulness is the gentle, consistent attention upon not only your thoughts but your experiences. Mindfulness is the moment you awaken within. The gift of mindfulness is your birthright.
Mindfulness is a simple word whose elegant sound gives its best clue to the heart of its potential. To be full of mind without thought describes the attentive nature of a mindfulness practice — the attentive nature of the person practicing mindfulness in their lives.
Mindfulness is a gentle practice that, once embraced, can bring peace and dignity to any situation. If we are mindful of our thoughts, we turn away from negative discourse. If we are mindful of our actions, we ease past confrontation. Without negativity, we embody integrity and balance. We become grounded. There is a big difference between being in a fight and watching a fight. If we become mindful of our combative tendencies, we can watch and observe them without engagement. If we are not mindful, we will not watch or observe, but engage, leading us to be the combative activity itself.
A sending mind is negative and critical, planning the stance a defensive mind takes against the world, and ultimately against our own well being. To turn your mental energies in support of your gentle nature, you need only mind the store. You need to watch and observe the direction of your thoughts, the character and quality of your thoughts, and more importantly, the distractibility of your thoughts.
I listen to audio books while driving. It is a mindful practice to notice how far I drift from the narration of the book throughout the day. How many times must I rewind, not because the roadway required a sudden burst of attention, but because of the way my mind wanders in response to what I’m hearing? What happened before I got into the car, or what I imagine might happen at some or later time affects my understanding and perception. So, if I want the full benefit of the experience, I must monitor my attention.
In addition to the monitoring aspect of mindfulness, there is also an action aspect. If you are mindful of what you watch on TV, for example, you not only monitor your viewing, but alter its excesses. Like my experience with the audio book, your mindfulness determines the benefit you receive from the experience. So while we learn to observe our thoughts without judgment to become mindful, we also learn from our experiences and monitor our sensory input to better our lives.
We can strive to be mindful of what we eat, what we say, what we watch on TV, basically everything to which we expose ourselves. And our reward is a receptive mind, a more fulfilling life experience, and a more mindful awareness. The receptive mind is a mind fulfilled, and a journey in itself.
If you will keep your inner eyes open whenever you experience an uncontrolled, unconscious act or thought, you will find an opportunity for mindful awareness. And through opportunity comes reward. Practice makes perfect in mindfulness training.
© Copyright 2009 KD Farris, Ph.D.. All Rights Reserved.
Read KD's Past Columns:
Summer 2009- "Being Present"
Spring 2009 - "Oneness"
Summer-Fall 2008 - "Celebration: If You Want to Learn Stillness—Watch a Rock"
Winter-Spring 2008 - "Personal Power, Strength and Empowerment"
Summer 2006 - "In a Call to Courage"
Oct-Dec 2005 - "Pausing For Breath At The Threshold of Consciousness"
Jan-Mar 2005 - "Tuning In - Turning Within"
Oct-Dec 2004 - "Experiencing Loss as a Gain"
Aug-Sept 2004 "Sometimes to Move Forward, We Have to Go Back"
June-July 2004 "Soulful Practice: Spiritual Practice--Soulful Nature"
Jan-Feb 2004 - "Making Our Dreams Come True Is Living A Truthful Life"
December 2003 - "Graceful Living - Confessions of a Professional Speaker"
October 2003 - "Serenity: As Calm, As Clear
May 2003 - "What are Your Needs?"
April 2003 - "Techniques for Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part II of II
February 2003 - "HESHE & Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part I of II
January 2003 - "Body & Soulful Living"
November 2002 - "Getting Into MESHE with Your Home Through Minor Adjustments"
October 2002 - "Being in MESHE with Clearing Clutter"
September 2002 - "Discover Going on Retreat"
July 2002 - "Build Your MESHE - Seek the Space: A Process for Reclaiming the Shadow"
June 2002 - Revisiting: "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
May 2002 - "Bodywork 101"
March 2002 - "Being Present Within Your Prosperous Life"
February 2002 - "HESHE and The Third Bird"
December 2001 - "Manifesting Your Perfect Partner with Personal Truthz"
November 2001 - "Remembering What We Already Know"
September 2001 - "Be Led By What You Are Trying to Avoid"
August 2001 - "Draw Your Way to Clarity, Health & Balance"
June 2001 - "Tending to the Negative Mind"
May 2001 - "Gentle Conscious Living"
April 2001 - "MISON and The Moment"
March 2001 - "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
KD Farris, Ph.D. is a successful counselor, healer, and bodyworker. For more than twenty years she has taught
extensive workshops based on MESHE, HESHE, MISON & ORBIT as well as many other self-discovery topics.
KD began developing her integrated bodywork and counseling techniques in 1983 under the tutelage of many prominent doctors and healers throughout the United States.
Her education into the spiritual and physical aspects of the human experience served as the foundation for her private practice and the development of a new philosophy. She combined her techniques into four guiding principles, which she shares in her book, MESHE, HESHE,
MISON & ORBIT: What My Grandmother Taught Me About the Universe. She teaches a companion workshop series, where she creates an interactive environment demonstrating the material from her book with tangible, life altering effects. In these workshops, individuals discover a
deepening of their relationship to self, others, and life itself.
Through individual counseling and group workshops, she has taught her results-oriented programs to many different types of people including those confined to mental institutions, substance and food abusers, and generally, people in life transitions, struggling with intimate
relationships, or who lack direction in their lives. Visit www.kdfarris.com.
KD is currently touring a new body of work, Talking About People in Transition, Also Known As
Liminal Space. She will be writing about liminality and its relevance to day-to-day living in upcoming issues of Soulful Living. For more information on this new and exciting topic, or to learn about more her private practice, workshops and lectures, visit
Contact KD at: info@MESHE.com